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First of all well done for booking this cruise. My husband and I sailed on this cruise in 2007 and it was the best one we have done. I will try and give you an insight to our experiences and hope it will help.
Wilmington for Philadelphia. Not a lot there unless you want the Liberty Bell. We did our own thing and used the complimentary shuttle bus(which was a yellow scholar bus) which took about 15 minutes to the shopping mall. Good if you want to shop.
New York We only had one day there and chose to do the organised trip by Land and Sea. You had a short trip on the coach to the main landmarks then a trip on a catamaran to see the skyline of New Work,Staten Island,Ellis Island then back to South Street Seaport when there was some freetime.
We thoroughly enjoyed this trip.
Newport Rhode Island We did our own thing here. Very nice place and if you want shopping there is a small shopping area across from where you get off the tender.
Boston We did an organised trip here to Salem and Witch Museum! Quite interesting.
Portland Maine The trip to Kennebunkport is highly recommended. It is a lovely interesting drive to get there and a delightful place. You pass President Bush Seniors' summer residence en-route.
Bar Harbor Maine This is another must to see the colours of the fall. We did the trip to the Acadia National Park. Beautiful! We were slightly too early for the full colours but it was still lovely.
Halifax Nova Scotia Another trip recommended is Peggy's Cove and the Double Decker. The coach took us to Peggy's cove in the morning. This is all lighthouses and very picturesque. (This was my husbands favourite). The coach brought us back to the ship and then we boarded the old London Double Decker and it was a hop on hop off round Halifax.
Quebec Beautiful City! So clean. We took a taxi ride to see the sights including the Montmorency Falls and surrounding area. Our taxi driver could speak good English and he took us where coaches would not fit! He was very helpful and knowlegable.
St Johns Newfoundland What a welcome in this port. Many people waving as we negotiated the narrow entrance in to dock. There was even two beautiful dogs waiting to say hello. A Newfoundland called Schooner and a Labrador called Churchill. We did our own thing again here and took another Double Decker tour bus to see the sights. When we were about to leave St Johns to sail to Southampton The fishing and ferry boats in the harbour were playing a "Symphony" to us. We were even "fired on "with canonfire as we passed signal hill on departure.
This was a splendid end to a most wonderful cruise which I hope you will enjoy as much as we did.
New York depends on where you dock. If Brooklyn, then you need transport to get to the centre. If Manhatten, then its a 20min walk to Times Square. There is good public transport if you want to get to specific sites otr there is a hop on hop off tourist bus that covers the main areas. Boston is fairly compact so its easy to do a walking tour. To make it easy there is a red line you follow, starting from the Information place on Boston common, which takes you all round the places of interest. Good place for seafood, particularly lobster. No information on other places but you maybe need to brush up on French for Quebec.
Wimington/Philly.Try the Liberty Bell Tour/Independence Hall if you are into US History.
NY. Aurora normally berths Nr 45/46th St 20 Mins walk to Times Sq plus 10mins to Macys.Think its best to walk if you are able New York Traffic can be heavy.
Newport You should expect Tender to Shore.Suggest you do your own thing that is if you are prepared to Walk.Try The Breakers which is the Vanderbilts old Place. Reasonable entrance Fee
Boston P&O normally lay on Shuttle in to Boston . But you could Try the tour to Harvard but go in the morning as sometimes the tour is cut short for afternoons.Don't forget 'The Friends' Bars.
Bar Harbour Again it will be Tender to shore.Try Ollie's Trolley Tour to Accadia Park you will find this available in the tiny port buildings.Also for that Lobster Lunch try Carmens Veranda [yes] Overall quite a nice place easily walkable.
Halifax Nice Board Walk alongside berth.For bit of History try The Citadel which is about a 15 min walk
Also if interested in Titanic try the Alantic Museum 5/10 mins from ship
Quebec .Contary to earlier answer no need for French.Boutique type area around ship. Lookout for the Chateau well you can hardly miss it.Excellent buskers on the boardwalk.There is also a very large Shopping Mall although we have never been we understand hat there is a shuttle bus leaving from somewhere around the port area.But nice shops Cafes walks immediatley around the Ships berth.
PS Think that we will be shipmates in Aug 09.